An Investigation of the Beginning Speech Course in Missouri: What It Is in Theory and Practice

Date of Graduation

Spring 1975


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Holt Spicer


It was the purpose of this study to discover what should be included in the curriculum of the beginning speech course on the high school level in the state of Missouri; (1) to do research to determine what journal writers contend should be taught; (2) to prepare a questionnaire to determine what teachers are actually teaching; and (3) to present a comparison of theory versus practicality through a research and questionnaire study. Though many studies have been conducted to determine what should be taught in the beginning speech course in Missouri, there have been no studies done to determine both theory and content. It was the writer's purpose to prepare such a study and to report the results. The questionnaire was sent to every high school speech teacher throughout the state of Missouri. Questionnaires were sent to 274 secondary public school teachers and the study itself was based on the findings of 138 questionnaires. It would appear that there is a great deal of consistency among journal writers and teachers. The important thing that should be noted is that they are in agreement in that the beginning course should prepare the student for daily living. The Fundamentals class, according to the teachers, was a class for learning to organize, think, and develop ideas and then put those thoughts into the spoken word. Teachers were in agreement that students needed more research materials in the classroom and more speaking opportunities. What better time than now to study rhetoric, logic, and critical listening? Students are going to have to be highly skilled in sound thinking and decision making. Our country was founded on freedom of speech. With freedom of speech comes responsibility. As educators, our responsibility is to communicate the need for proper speech education and to follow through with sound convictions. Perhaps the one thing that stands out in the writer's mind is the honest and open manner in which teachers throughout the state responded to the questionnaire. The one thing that came through was the moving in the classroom to practicality. Certainly this more than any other factor will help to meet the speaking needs of today's students. It is the reponsibility of every teacher to seek ways in which they can present that first year course in speech in such a meaningful way that the individual student will become a better person for having learned how to communicate.

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© Norene Carol Fields